Online agent defends failure to display EPC ratings on Rightmove listings

An online letting agent has defended its failure to display EPC ratings on some of its Rightmove listings, after EYE uncovered several examples of properties for which no rating was displayed, some of which had been on the market for months.

A reader contacted EYE to complain that online letting agent OpenRent was posting listings on Rightmove without providing details of an EPC rating.

EYE investigated and found that of OpenRent’s 48 most recent listings (as of February 16), seven did not have an EPC rating.

OpenRent responded that EPCs had been commissioned and would be added once a rating had been provided.

A spokesperson for OpenRent said: “As I’m sure you’re aware, the law in England and Wales is that an EPC has been ordered before it is marketed. It is not a legal requirement that the EPC has been completed or an efficiency grade awarded before it is marketed.

“As such the properties you’ve highlighted will be ones where the EPC is currently being obtained.

“Naturally as soon as a report is completed and the rating provided, this is added to the property advert; and further, as the law requires, the EPC must be completed and a copy of the report provided to the tenant before they move in.”

Government guidance allows a seller, landlord or agent to “use all reasonable efforts” to ensure the EPC is obtained within seven days.

A further 21 days is allowed “if after using all reasonable efforts the EPC cannot be obtained within seven days”.

The guidance adds: “The energy performance indicator of the building as shown on the EPC, for example, C, must be stated in any advertisements in the commercial media.

“Failure to do so could result in a fine of £200 per advertisement.”

While the majority of OpenRent’s older listings do carry an EPC rating, EYE found more examples of older adverts on Rightmove that did not have an EPC rating and sent them to OpenRent.

One was over 60 days old and the other over 150 days old.

The spokesperson said the examples looked “odd” and the company immediately updated them.

He added: “Checking over a set of our older ads this situation looks very rare (I can’t find any further examples other than those two, please let me know if you see any others), so I’m not sure what was stopping the EPC rating appearing on all sites.

“We are investigating to make sure something isn’t systematically stopping ratings being updated in Rightmove adverts as soon as they’re available.”

EYE yesterday found another 12 examples of OpenRent listings that appeared not to contain an EPC rating, ranging from 118 days old to 90 days old.

When contacted again with these examples, the spokesperson said: “These properties do have EPCs, so the issue is the grade not being pulled through automatically as expected.

“We are looking into it and will be able to put a fix in once we establish what’s not working as expected.”

Meanwhile, OpenRent contended that it was not the only agent to post listings without an EPC rating, and highlighted three examples from the Golders Green office of Winkworth, in London.

Those listings ranged from 40 days old to 30 days old.

A spokesperson for Winkworth said: “We’ve found that this issue is down to an administrative error.

“The relevant people have been notified and are looking into why the EPC ratings for these properties were not displayed. We continue to train all of our franchisees and their staff to ensure that they comply fully with all rules and regulations.”

ARLA Propertymark chief executive David Cox said it was his view that prospective tenants should only be allowed to click through for “more information” on properties advertised on portals that have an EPC certificate displayed on the site.

He said: “An EPC must be commissioned before a property can be marketed either for sale or for rent. It should be obtained within seven days of the property being marketed, but if there are any issues, a further 21 days are permitted.

“Once the certificate has been obtained, it must appear on any advertisement in commercial media and made available to anyone who requests it, or anyone who is viewing the property.

“To make this clear, landlords or letting agents cannot show any prospective renters the property, nor can they share any written information, until the EPC is available.

He added: “In summary, it is unlawful to market a property for which an EPC has not been commissioned, and there are sanctions in place to prevent this from happening.”

A spokesperson for Rightmove said: “Agents must ensure all listings adhere to all relevant industry legislation.”

See below for one of OpenRent’s listings found yesterday by EYE, which appeared to have been posted without an EPC rating:

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11 Comments

  1. Jonesd1597

    Interesting, just had a OpenRent Property reduce in Cheltenham for rent and it has no EPC displayed on the listing?

    Is this not more the case that Landlords are not aware of their legal obligations to have an EPC for their property and Still being able to upload a listing as they know what there doing when it comes to letting a property!!!!

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    1. Will

      Surely OpenRent are those posting the adverts and have the duty to ensure they comply with the law; even if the adverts are compiled by others such as landlords.

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    2. iamgina14

      Still no EPCS being advertised with Open rent!

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  2. GeorgeOrwell

    Agent talking b@ll@ks.

    Get on with it. Do your job properly.

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  3. bren_gun

    Interestingly, the property they recently listed in my area has since disappeared from Rightmove. One suspects no EPC had been commissioned as, according to Rightmove Plus, this was archived today after 5 days of listing and was not ‘let agreed’

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  4. Michael at Martin Co

    At the end of the day no matter how you dress it up Open Rent is just a cheap avenue for Landlords to post on something which costs us a small fortune…..and rising.

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  5. Neilw

    The response just confirms Openrent are in breach of Rightmoves requirements and can only be classified as listers not Agents. In previous discussions with RM I was asked to demonstrate how I approved an advert and obtained proof of ownership. OR do neither and let their robots do everything with no human inteaction. They are also in breach of their ARLA membership by not following their Code of Practice procedures.

    Finally from 31st January all Agents in Scotland must conduct their business in accordance with the new Scottish Government Code of Practice which also covers these issues along with what is legally required to include on adverts.

    When is RM going to accept that these online Agents are not “Agents” and if they state they are only listers, when are they going to remove them from  their site.

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  6. LettingsGuru199778

    So in theory if they have an ad live for 28 days and one added an EPC they are liable for £200?

     

    How greedy can Rightmove be, for allowing Open Rent to act as an agent where there is no doubt they offer a DIY solution? I wonder how many fraud cases already took places where people claim to be the landlord and try to rent properties they don’t own

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  7. Votta583

    Unfortunately the landlords that own the properties have no idea of what their agent is doing or not doing. Interesting to see how the landlord is to get possession under a section 21 as they probably wouldn’t have provided the EPC to the tenant and maybe even the how to rent guides.

    Again failure to police the activity and legislation that’s already in place!

     

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  8. bren_gun

    Still listing without EPCs even after this article http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-to-rent/property-64159201.html

    http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-to-rent/property-71606315.html

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  9. JungleProperty

    Relatively few people in the industry know the many (and expanding) laws that govern the  property sector (even the person who wrote this article has made a glaring error – if you have read and understood the law you will spot it straight away). Few landlords/agents in our area comply with this law whether they are online/offline/hybrid and most ignore requirements such as the need to display fees but nobody polices it so I guess it will continue.

    Not a supporter of OpenRent but it’s slightly harsh to single them out.

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